At least two people in Fort Bend County have tested positive for West Nile virus last week.
Dr. Sarfraz Aly, an infectious disease specialist at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, said he has treated two people at the hospital with confirmed cases of West Nile. One is a man who likely contracted the disease from a mosquito bite in Sugar Land and the other is a woman from Sugar Land who probably caught it in Dallas.
“They came in here with a fever and headaches, and may have had body pain,” he said.
Aly said the man was working near standing water when mosquitoes bit him. He said the woman believes she was bit while visiting Dallas, although there is no confirmation of that.
Some mosquitoes tested in Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks.
The disease is most commonly spread by mosquitoes. The blood-sucking insects breed and lay eggs in standing water. With heavy rains that have fallen in the area in the last couple of weeks, Aly expects to see more cases soon.
“I’m thinking we might see a surge now,” he said. “It usually occurs after a rainy season.”
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. Symptoms on the serious side may include a stiff neck, vision problems, body tremors, mental confusion, memory loss, and seizures. The milder form of the illness is West Nile fever, the symptoms of which may include fever, headache, muscle and bone aches, nausea and drowsiness.
Most people with the milder form of the illness typically recover on their own, although symptoms could last several weeks. Up to 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms and will recover on their own naturally.
Aly said in some cases, if untreated, the virus can impact the respiratory system and in extreme cases can be fatal.
Dr. Joe Anzaldua, who serves as the Sugar Land’s medical director and health authority, confirmed that a person who lives in Sugar Land has tested positive for the virus in a Sugar Land hospital, but it is not known if it is one of the two people Aly has treated.
As a precautionary measure, the Sugar Land will increase mosquito spraying to twice per week citywide and will continue working closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services to trap and test mosquitos for the presence of the West Nile virus. The traps supplement the city’s larvicide and mosquito spraying operations.
Missouri City is also increasing its spraying schedule. It has added two additional spray days through Oct. 31. In addition to the city’s contractor spraying every Thursday; the company will also add Monday and Saturday to its updated schedule.
Spraying will take place by the contractor, Cypress Creek Pest Control, in all communities between the hours of 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Spraying covers all streets and neighborhoods within city limits, including the private streets of communities that have provided a gate code for accessibility by the contractor. Also, in addition to the contractor’s cycle, city staff sprays common areas like parks, green spaces, and the Quail Valley Golf Course as the need arises.
An environmentally friendly pesticide, Kontrol 30-30, will be used and special attention will be given to locations where mosquitoes swarm.
“The city will proactively continue to monitor this issue, and will keep residents informed of spray schedule plans as we move forward,” said City Manager Anthony J. Snipes. “Mosquitoes can be a health hazard and the spraying program is a key prevention measure we have in place to keep the populations low.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends practicing the “Four Ds” as precautionary measures:
• Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
• Dress in long sleeves and long pants when outdoors.
• Stay indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Drain standing water where mosquitoes breed. Common breeding sites include old tires, flowerpots and clogged rain gutters.
It’s also important for residents to eliminate standing water around their homes, an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.
For more information, visit www.sugarlandtx.gov/fightthebite.